Child-Check Devices for School Buses: A Vital Reminder

To protect kids from being left stranded, drivers must carefully check their bus. Electronic systems can help keep that duty from being neglected.

Various arming options
CRS Electronics’ child reminder system gives school bus operations a number of options in deciding what will arm the system.

“It can range from simply starting the vehicle, to starting the vehicle and letting it run a certain period of time, to also running the warning lights or also using the brakes,” says Scott Riesebosch, president of CRS Electronics. “These are all different methods of arming the system, which gives school districts flexibility.”

Riesebosch notes that this flexibility can help avoid hindering technicians in their duties.

“They’re not having to walk to the back of the bus when they’re trying to do routine maintenance,” he says. “If it’s too burdensome for mechanics, they’ll disable it, and we don’t want that.”

Another option on CRS’ system is to have the headlights flash, in addition to the horn honking, if a driver fails to walk to the back of the bus and disarm the system.

Riesebosch notes that there is also a quick way to ensure that the child reminder system is functioning: Open and close the service door twice, and the system will give a couple of honks to confirm that it’s operating properly.

<p>KiddieVoice, from ATWEC Technologies, uses verbal commands to instruct the driver in checking the vehicle.</p>Locking key system
ATWEC Technologies’ child-check device, KiddieVoice, uses verbal commands to instruct the driver in checking the vehicle.

The system is ignition based — turning the bus on and off activates it.

“A voice comes on: ‘Please check the vehicle,’” says Alex Wiley, owner of ATWEC Technologies. “That message will cycle continuously until the driver goes to the rear of the vehicle, where there’s a childproof locking key system. That ensures that the driver is the one [disarming] it, instead of having a kid do it.”

If the system isn’t disarmed, an electronic siren will sound.

“Nothing beats a physical inspection,” Wiley says. “We’re going to force you to do that inspection.”

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Thomas McMahon is the executive editor of School Bus Fleet magazine.

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